The gun-toting grandma Madea is an audience-pleaser on big and small screens and now she's reaching out to more fans than ever with the live show, "Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family Tour," with lighting design by Brian Nason and support by Scharff Weisberg Lighting.
Nason was brought in when Perry, who produces the show and stars as Madea, expanded the show to triple its size. "It's much larger than it was before," he notes, "and I've enjoyed working on it. Mr. Perry is an amazing man, the tour has a great atmosphere and there's a wonderful team of people to work with."
Nason comes to the tour with an extensive background in Broadway stage lighting. He was the lighting designer for "Thurgood" and the 2005 revival of "On Golden Pond"," and lighting supervisor on "Metamorphosis," for which he received a Tony nonination for best lighting design.
For "Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family Tour" Nason was challenged to create the lighting design for a huge, revolving two-story house set where scenes move from interior to exterior and back again. "The interior is on one side of the turntable and the exterior on the other," he explains. "It's very cool, but it can be hard to get fill light deep into some of the rooms. The tour plays huge arenas and packs in 7,000 people a night. The show itself changes a bit day to day because there's a lot of improv and music in it. It's the most incredible live event I've ever worked on."
Moving from venue to venue required that the lighting rig be able to go up in four hours, he reports. "No matter where we are, it has to be a four-hour set up. Mr. Perry wants it to look good coming out of the truck, and it has. Scharff Weisberg deserves the credit for that."
Nason notes that, "Scharff Weisberg has provided us with a VARI*LITE moving light rig that's very versatile and offers a lot of options. I like it a lot."
Scharff Weisberg furnished a Tomcat Swing Wing Truss preloaded with VARI*LITE fixtures to gain build/strike speed and save truck space. It is outfitted with VL3500 spots, VL3500 washes, Martin Atomic Strobes with scrollers, and Color Kinetics Colorblasts. Also on hand are ETC Source 4 ellipsoidal fixtures, hazers and foggers and a pair of High End Full Boar consoles for lighting control.
"I had to put the lighting together in two weeks, and Scharff Weisberg did a terrific job pulling some amazing gear together with the help of some amazing guys. I'm very happy with the results."
Madea's Big Happy Family Tour continues through May.
Jon Clark and Mike Barczys are the programmers for the tour with Karim Badwan crew chief and Jay Scott lighting technician. At Scharff Weisberg Chris McMeen was the account manager and John Healy senior project manager.
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